All of a sudden it has become very real. I can’t believe that I am on my way to see Wales play in the quarter finals of the Euros!
There was a fantastic atmosphere in Paris last weekend as the two contenders for fans of the tournament met in the last 16. We had a great time mingling and sharing a beer before and after the game and I felt for their fans.
Inside the ground we outnumbered the Northern Irish but both the fans and the players were strangely subdued. Wales always seem to struggle when they are expected to win. It was a scrappy game as Michael O’Neill’s impressive team prevented us from playing for most of the 90 minutes.
Who cares, we did it and are in the quarter finals! When the final whistle went I was once again overcome with emotion and I must admit I had a tear in my eye. I still haven’t stopped smiling now!
In the end it was an own goal that saw us through. A shame for Gareth McAuley but if he hadn’t intervened Hal Robson-Kanu was ready to pounce and would surely have scored.
The passion and team ethic of this group has got them a long way. Again at the final whistle the players and management didn’t want the celebrations to end. We stayed and sang and cheered as their lucky kids had a kick about on the pitch. I am so proud of this team and our fans, who once again were praised for their behaviour.
Fair play to the Irish, they were awesome with most of then staying in the ground a long time. We wanted to clap them off as they left but instead settled for joining in with a final rendition of Will Grigg’s on fire. Great fun as both sets of fans went ballistic!
On the way home I drove Rich mad and all week I have been driving Nichola crazy humming that song!
All my life I have watched England underperform at tournaments, thinking Wales would do ok if only we could qualify. I was right and hopefully we don’t have to wait another 58 years for the next one.
Following the match Rich and I stayed in the stadium area for a few hours to savour the moment. Then we had a comedy moment dancing and singing on the metro with some Irish and Scottish (?!) fans. The two young French students on our coach didn’t quite know what to think of us but they took it all in good spirit.
Richard and I were staying in the lovely Luxembourg area of central Paris. Despite having a fuzzy head from one too many complimentary glasses of red wine on the Eurostar the night before I went for a run first thing to keep up the superstition. So far I have run on the morning of each of the three games we have won at the tournament.
This European adventure has been an incredible experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. So far we have been on planes, trains, trams and buses. I’m taking the car (via Eurotunnel) to Lille for the quarter final so the only thing missing from the collection is a boat. Who knows, maybe the final? I’m still dreaming!